Story of a Tree
Updated: Nov 2
by Jorgen Hempel
They inhabit our forests, rise to majestic heights, or crawl into the shadows of those dominating, as we do. We see them in the hills and in the valleys; they grow scarce on the mountain side and in abundance in the tropics. They ask for nothing but a bit of water, and nurse our climate. Different to other living things, they have no enemies. Except man.
And then they give us wood to keep us warm and structures with which to build our houses. If you draw a balance (an imposed condition in a regulated and controlled society like ours), you end up with the conclusion that the Tree we talk about could be no less than our best friend.
For thousands of years it served us, and our choices could have extended that for another thousand years.
When you told me that you have no enemies (but that of man) I agreed.
"But you must have competitors your Majesty," is what I said to the highest tree I could find.
"I do," answered the Tree, "but for the time being I prefer to ignore them."
But one day things changed, big machines rolled on the fields next to the forest
“Don’t touch my territory, “ cried the Tree.
“Have no worry,” answered the man on the machine, "all we do is sow grains for a new forest."
“A new forest?" shouted the Tree, "a competitor, I suppose," but the man on the machine did not answer.
Nothing happened for a while, but one day sprouts started appearing on the soil and the fields turned light green for as far as your eyes could reach.
“What on earth is going on?” asked the Tree. But he got no answers from the sprouts.
One morning the Tree woke up late and looked out at the fields below. While he had been sleeping the sprouts had gone and now the fields were covered with trees of more than five foot high.
“Holy Moses”, cried the Tree, "if you grow like that, you will out-grow me in a few months."
But the little new trees did not answer, they were still too young to hold conversation with the big Tree.
For a while the Tree ignored them, but when the little trees became a forest, he grew curious. So one morning while he was in a clement mood he shouted, to the little trees, “Hello you intruders on my territory, who are you if you have a name?" The little trees looked at him and with a smile they sang in chorus,
“We are the new-old plant
coming back on earth
as we did many years ago.
We are here to stay so don’t go away
You will see as we grow
The many things we can do
The Tree was not angry, but asked “But who are you little trees, what is your name and to which height are you to grow, and will you be as tall as me and cast shadow on me?”
"Be not afraid," said the little trees, "We will grow to twelve feet tall before they cut us down and that will take us four months only. And as to our names, mine is Sativa," said the little girl, "And my friend here, his name is Cannabis."
The Tree looked at them skeptically. “Twelve feet in four months, how is that possible, it takes me thirty years to grow to my height. And then they cut you down and after that what are you good for, do they burn you in the fire place?"
“Not at all, because we don’t burn. We don’t rot either. "
"What?" said the Tree, "That cannot be, that would be against the regulations."
“Have you never heard about us?" Asked the little boy, "Yet we have been there for thousands of years, making ropes and sails and paper to write on."
"And then what happened?" asked the Tree, getting curious and added “By the way, you can call me Your Majesty."
"Well," said the little boy, "Your Majesty shall know, that for a long time we were locked up by people we do not know, but they surely did not seem to like us."
"A peculiar story," said the Tree, "and then what happened?"
"People found out that with all the things we can do they really need us. When we breathe we clean the air, after harvesting they process our seeds and make healthy oil, with our fibres, they make clothes and paper and many other things that I cannot remember," said the little boy who was now getting excited by telling his Majesty all the things he could do.
"I am getting dizzy," said the Tree, "with all the things you can do. But tell me now are there things you cannot do?"
The little boy looked at the little girl and whispered “What shall we tell him?"
“Tell him the truth," the little girl said.
"Well, excuse me your Majesty, it is a fact that we can do almost everything, and apart from what I already told you, our material also serves to build safe and healthy houses. We deliver the finest insulation material, because the hemp is porous and therefore so efficient. But porous material does not carry so we need a wood structure for that, so that is what we cannot do!"
"And from where do you get the wood structure?" asked his Majesty
"From the Tree."
"From the Tree? But the Tree, that is me!” cried his Majesty all exited.
"Indeed it is," said the little boy and the little girl with one voice.
"What a co-incidence. But in such a case we are not competitors, we are friends and must work together."
"That is the right idea," said the children.
The Tree was thinking for a while, and then he said, “Is it not so that what you cannot do I can do...
And the children answered, “And what you cannot do, we can do.”
"So the solution, it that we must work together and that we will from now on call JOINING FORCES."
Since the big Tree and the little trees could not shake hands on that, they shook their branches so that the leaves were flying all over, and their cries of joy could be heard as far as to the great city.